TODAY'S PAPER
71° Good Morning
71° Good Morning
SportsMixed Martial Arts

Seeding the Strikeforce Grand Prix heavyweights

Alistair Overeem, top, punches Paul Buentello en route

Alistair Overeem, top, punches Paul Buentello en route to winning the Strikeforce heavyweight title via submission in San Jose, Calif. (Nov. 16, 2007) Photo Credit: AP

The Strikeforce World Grand Prix heavyweight tournament kicks off this Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. It's had people buzzing for the past six weeks after the initial announcement.

Since this is a tournament, there's a bracket. Since we're close to that time of the year where the primary definition of a bracket is no longer something that holds something else in place, let's stick to good ol' American tradition and talk about seeding.

Below are my thoughts on seeding the eight heavyweights in the Grand Prix.

1. Alistair Overeem (34-11): He may not be the great Fedor, but he is on an incredible hot streak. Overeem won the K-1 Grand Prix in December, then added the interim Dream title to his resume. He's got the toughest draw possible in the bracket, but he might just be the toughest guy to beat right now.

2. Fedor Emelianenko (31-2): Fedor has lost some luster since losing to Fabricio Werdum last June, but "The Last Emperor" still is considered one of the most dangerous fighters regardless of weight class. Let's not forget all that Fedor had accomplished -- 10-year, 27-fight win streak -- before that loss.

3. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1): Everyone is focused on a dream semifinal pairing of Overeem-Fedor, which could be just enough for Werdum to pull a second-straight major upset in the quarterfinals against Overeem. No chance Overeem overlooks him, though. It was Werdum who submitted Overeem in a Pride fight in 2006, and the Strikeforce heavyweight champion hasn't forgotten.

4. Antonio Silva (15-2): "Big Foot" is the wild card in the Grand Prix. He has the size advantage over quarterfinal opponent Fedor, but of course, that's never made a difference against "The Last Emperor." But Silva has knockout power, and we've seen Fedor eat some punches and not like it in his recent fights. Silva is considered a rising star in the Strikeforce heavyweight division. Here's his chance to prove it.

5. Josh Barnett (29-5): On a six-fight win streak, "The Babyfaced Assassin" has left a trail of battered opponents -- and a second failed drug test. Still banned in the state of California, the former UFC heavyweight champion hasn't lost since 2006 and just might be able to emerge from his side of the bracket into the final. If so, don't expect that fight card to take place in Strikeforce's home city on San Jose, Calif.

6. Brett Rogers (11-2): In 2009, Rogers knocked out Andrei Arlovski in 22 seconds, then lost later that year to Fedor, followed by a loss to Overeem after that. Lucky for him, he's on the side of the bracket paired up against Barnett. At least Rogers has enough knockout power to give him a chance.

7. Andrei Arlovski (15-8): A former UFC heavyweight champion, Arlovski hasn't won a fight since knocking out Roy Nelson in 2008. He's considered to be on the downside of his career, but maybe a quarterfinal win over Sergei Kharitonov on Feb. 12 will help revive his outlook. Keep in mind that Arlovski is 1-3 against other Grand Prix contestants, with his only win came by decision against Werdum at UFC 70 in 2007. His last three losses? Silva, Fedor, Rogers.

8. Sergei Kharitonov (17-4): Kharitonov is entered in the Grand Prix, which should be enough to get him some recognition among MMA fans in the United States. Here's another reason: He's the last man on the planet to beat Overeem -- a first-round knockout at a K-1 fight in September 2007. He has fought once each year since then.

 

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports